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Behold Your King!
Rev S 't Hart - 16 April 2011

When they crucified our Lord, the soldiers put up over His head the accusation written against Him: "Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews" (John 19:19)

The chief priests did not like that sign. "He is not our king", they claimed.

We do not like that sign either, very much. He is not simply the king of the Jews, but the King of kings!

But is He the King? Is Jesus the One we had all been waiting for, or do we have to wait for another?

Concerning the Christ, God said in Psalm 2, "Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession." But Pilate, that vassal of the emperor of Rome, had said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?" (John 19:10).

In Psalm 2, the LORD had said to His Anointed One, "You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel." But in Matthew 27 we read of a reed being shoved into Christ's right hand. And instead of Jesus breaking the nations with a rod of iron, we see the nations striking Him on His own head with that reed.

In Psalm 2 the kings and judges of the earth are warned to "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way." The soldiers were not kissing Him: they spat on Him.

In Psalm 2 the LORD says, "Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion." But on Good Friday we don't see Christ set as King on Mount Zion. We see Him raised up as a criminal on the hill of Golgotha.

Psalm 2 says, "Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him." But on the eve of His crucifixion, Simon Peter had denied Him. The other disciples had all fled. The crowds were crying out for His blood and the chief priests said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save."

And Pilate said, "Behold your King!"

But what sort of a King is this?

After Pilate had Jesus whipped, he handed him over to the soldiers to be crucified. But they were not ready to crucify Him just yet. Like a pack of dogs, like beasts that play with their prey before they kill and eat, the soldiers called for their comrades to engage in a bit of fun before the crucifixion began. Did Jesus claim to be a king? Well then, let Him be king!

The whole garrison, a group of jeering, blasphemous soldiers, gathered around the Christ. Most would have jeered and cheered from the fringes. But from the soldiers emerged the ringleaders, the clowns and the bullies. After they had stripped Jesus of His clothes, they found a scarlet robe. It was not the robe of a real king: commentators believe it to have been an old soldier's uniform. That was how they wanted it. For the soldiers did not want Him to look like a king in all his splendour: they wanted to laugh at His ridiculous costume.

But the soldiers could do better than this: in this game of "Dress Up" an old soldier's uniform would only be the start. What Jesus needed was a crown! A crown was the sign of royalty above all else. A crown was not something a man put on his head very lightly. By accepting a crown on his head, a person accepted the claim that he was supreme, the great king. A crown also meant that a person was himself divine, or at least connected to the gods.

Then someone saw a thorn bush. It may have been growing there; more likely it had been collected earlier as fuel for the fire. Quickly but carefully the thorns were woven into a crown. And then that crude sign of royal and divine power was placed upon the head of the Great King.

And then, after placing a reed in His hand, the stage was set. As the other jeering soldiers looked on, a parade of men lined up to look Jesus in the eye, to bow down in mock homage and shout "Hail, King of the Jews!", to spit on Him and then take the reed they had placed in His hands and beat him over the head with it.

And as that parade of mocking and jeering soldiers filed past Jesus, spat in the face of God and beat the eternal Son of God over the head, we can be sure that Satan and his cohorts had also come to watch the spectacle, the mock crowning, the coronation ceremony of the Son of God. As the jeering laughter of the soldiers echoed around the Pretorium, all of hell laughed with them. This was their moment and the hour of darkness. Here was Jesus: stripped of His dignity as the King of the Jews, as the King of all. "What a king You are! One who gets beaten over the head with His own sceptre!"

The soldiers laughed and mocked. Satan was doing the same. But this was not the end, for we know that Christ gets the last laugh. He endured the cross and despised the shame of it because He knew that this was the way that He would be proclaimed King. On Good Friday His head wore a crown of thorns and in His hand there was a reed. But He believed that there would be for Him a golden crown and a rod of iron. The LORD would exchange this crown of thorns for one that would never perish. Indeed, "He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision." (Psalm 2:4)

And the day will come when at the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that He is King! On that day, He will return on the clouds of heaven and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. (Rev. 1:7) On that day He will cast all His and my enemies into everlasting condemnation and He will refuse all mockers and revilers from entering the Kingdom of Heaven. (1 Cor. 6:10) On that day He shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel. He will be seen to be treading the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God. And on His robe and on His thigh will be written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev. 19:15,16)

But that is not all there is to the conquest of Christ. What is even greater and more wonderful is that some of those who spat Him would soon kiss Him. (cf. Psalm 2:12.) There were some of those who had first spat on the Son but later turned to Him and lived. When Christ was crucified there were soldiers keeping guard at the cross. And when payment for sin and the curse was completed they began to see Christ not as the man they had mockingly jeered a few hours before, but they began to see Him for who He is. Matthew 27:54, "So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"

Christ died for those very men who had reviled Him and spat on Him.

And Acts 6:7 tells us that when the Word of God spread, "a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith." From the priests, who before had also joined in spitting Him, the priests, who had answered Pilate saying, "We have no king but Caesar!" Christ claimed some for His own.

Christ defeated Satan and his dark dominion so completely that He could enter Satan's stronghold at will, and even cause those who had abused and spat Him to turn to Him in faith and be joined to His Kingdom!

And we too are a part of Christ's conquest. Jesus Christ now wears not the crown of thorns but the crown of victory. He is our King and we are His people. And as His people we too shall receive a crown, for we too shall have dominion over the kingdom of darkness, and we too shall rule with Him.

Jesus Christ, the One who was robed in an soldier's robe, the One who wore a crown of thorns, who was mocked, spat at and beaten, is the King whom we were waiting for. Through His suffering and through the Cross, He received the victory so that he could be our King forever.

And God says to you: "Behold, your King!"

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